Going to Android

Over two years ago I was thinking about next cellphone and wrote that it would be something with Windows Mobile. There were comments that I should go for Android which was not on a market yet. In first week of 2009 I switched to Nokia E66 running Symbian. There were apps for this device (I even bought one: ProfiMail) and community existed with lot of tricks, hints, suggestions.

In October I got Nokia N900 discount offer and I decided to take it. Device arrived month later and I got hooked. Finally device which I can use daily for my network activity without having to carry additional cellphone (like it was with Nokia 770 and N810 tablets). Maemo community existed already and I was a part of it. As there were developers already equipped with N900s there was a constant flow of new applications, themes, tweaks and hints. Platform was living. Nokia provided few system updates, some of them even gave some nice new features.

But at same time it was known that amount of love for Nokia N900 at headquarters is near zero. MeeGo was announced just few months after device release so it was known that there will be very limited support level and that some things will never be done (like Ovi Maps with voice navigation).

So I started slowly to look at market to know which way to go for next cellphone. Windows Mobile 6.x was out of question as this is platform which gets out of market now. Windows Phone 7 is fresh, strictly controlled so I do not want to go there — let it first get some devices, applications etc. Symbian? no way — been there already. Ok, Nokia N8 looks nice but it is still Symbian. MeeGo is not yet market ready when it comes to phones and even when mystic N9 will be released then it will not be pure MeeGo but rather some kind of mix of open components from MeeGo + huge set of closed sourced applications written by Nokia. And who knows how long it will be supported…

So I looked into Android. Installed NITDroid on N900 to play with FroYo and it looks and behaves quite good. There are lot of communities (usually around families of devices), custom system images are something normal for popular devices (so if vendor does not support upgrades to newer OS versions then community usually do). Also lot of friends already use Android powered devices (cellphones, tablets etc) so there are lot of hints from them what to choose when it comes to hardware or software.

Which cellphone to choose? I have few candidates:

  • Nexus S – brand new device, Google supported so should get few OS releases, runs latest Android
  • Nexus One – nearly year on market, also Google supported, runs Android 2.2, newest version “should be out in few weeks”
  • HTC Desire – nearly same as Nexus One but this time as official HTC device. Android 2.2, should get at least 2.3 version from HTC
  • HTC Desire HD – hardware similar to previous one but bigger screen
  • HTC Desire Z – Desire + hardware QWERTY keyboard
  • Samsung Galaxy S – Android 2.1 but 2.3 is promised

Which to buy? Nexus S looks good and I will be in US in January…

And this will be my 4th cellphone running Linux…

UPDATE: added Samsung Galaxy S because vendor promised Android 2.3 — but it depends when it will be available.

Is this the end of Maemo5?

Some time ago I stopped following Maemo news. For me N900 became “just a phone” which I used for calls, checking email in crappy Modest, browsing web from time to time and to read Twitter (if any application for it works) or Facebook (by web browser cause there are no apps for it).

But recently I got one tweet which pointed me to “State of Maemo” post. For me it looks like Nokia decided to finally abandon sinking ship and leave Nokia N900 users alone. Qt will probably get some updates to show that they care about cross platform support. How many MeeGo Qt apps will work on Maemo5? No one knows probably but one thing is sure — they will have to be recompiled because Harmattan will be hard-float (confirmed by Nokia developer during UDS-N). But for rest community will have to care about.

OK, there was told that there are “ideas about opening various pieces of Maemo source code that are still closed” but what it will be? No one knows. I would like to get Calendar opened but when it will happen I will probably do not have N900 anymore…

And today I read total “please ignore our ,but ignored by us, platform” message:

Last week we spoke with Nokia. We were actively discouraged from developing for Maemo any further. There are lots of things we love about Maemo, including an awesome user community so we’re disappointed to see it EOL’d. It’s frustrating to have put so much effort into an app only to see the platform it’s on be terminated. Whether we reappear on MeeGo — the successor to Maemo — depends in part on Nokia. In the mean time, our conversation with Nokia has led us to deprioritize the update we were working on, though no final decision has been made yet as to whether or not it’ll ship. I’ll keep you posted.

Somebody wants to buy my N900? I am going to move to Android because this looks like a platform where OS vendor care at least on some of devices by providing system upgrades. And there are communities which provide updates for abandoned devices. And no, I do not plan to buy device running MeeGo — enough money spent on Nokia devices.